Posted by: alegra22 | June 3, 2011

the weight of prayer

Tonight was not one of my finer nights. It is a speeding thought that takes a corner in my mind too quickly, sparks flying off the guard rail, and then it is gone. Tail lights fading in the dark.  Zaviera curls her body into mine and sighs. I feel the moment her mind lets go and falls into that other world of dreams. It is a quieting of the hum along her skin, an electricity that softens, spreads, until it is nothing more than a whisper. I kiss her forehead and pray that I’ve done enough for her.

 Last night she sat up in bed somewhere between midnight and dawn and yelled, “Mommy! Why aren’t you here? Why aren’t you holding me?”  Even through my earplugs the words were a sharp presence, a force moving through the darkness. I was pulled through sleep by each word, a cookie cutter of my daughter’s need pressing into my skin. I pushed aside the blankets leaving my warm nest to listen to her nightmare, to smooth the hair out of her face, pull the covers up around her chin, and then return to bed. There was just enough of my body heat left in the sheets, a phantom, a shadow, a remembrance of myself. I stumbled into it, curling up like a child, my feet searching out my husband’s. I pressed my toes into his and prayed about my daughter’s nightmare. She was flying with me and then she lost me. Sol was a red devil who would not stop hounding her. 

My prayer was an ocean that moved through me. It swallowed my words and translated them into currents and shifting light. It was quiet and vast and full of power. The deeper I sank, the lighter I became. 

“I dreamed that Sol was red and yelling at me, like this,” she recaps over breakfast, her hands lifted like claws next to her face, her lips snarling, teeth bared. “It really scared me. I said, ‘Sol, you’re scaring me!’ but he just kept going ‘rawr!'” 

“Yes,” I say, lifting her waffle to her mouth, “that sounds scary. A red Sol would scare me too. Sometimes he does go ‘rawr’ a lot, doesn’t he?”

She nods, opening her mouth and accepting the waffle.  This is not a silly dream. She is serious and so am I.

Tonight, fever lines my skull like a musky carpet. Its fibers drift down my throat, gather in my muscles, tangle around my joints. When I’m ill, I can’t handle the noise. I become a blur of movement. The demands of my children leave tracers in the air as I move away through them shouting out, “Yes, okay, but I can only do one thing at a time.” The demands hang out in the air, they disorientate me. It’s like stepping into cobwebs, tripping over discarded toys.  I didn’t understand the meaning of ‘underfoot’ until parenthood. I think about all of this as I hold Zaviera, as I stare into the darkness left by the thought of my failings. I watch myself try to fill in the darkness with plans on how to deal with Sol and the challenges he presents us: We need to do this…

I come up with a list of actions to take. It exhausts me. All of this summoning up and determination, when I know there will be nights like this, nights when my emotions feel full of fiberglass and no matter how hard I try to spread myself evenly between my three children, there is not enough of me to go around and so I find myself moving toward the warmest spot, the easiest place to rest. Without thinking, I gather Joaquin into my arms, his smile infusing my body with energy. I listen as Zaviera leans in close to me and says that she forgives Sol for being so angry and my heart kaleidescopes into patterns of darkness and light, swallowing color, holding it captive.

Tonight I let go of my attempts to plan. I let go of my fears that there is a right and wrong way to do this. I hold my son’s nature in my heart, his struggles and giftings, and I exhale. I sink deep. I sink deeper. I sink until there is nothing but filtered light and this quiet prayer:

Surround my children with your grace.



  1. it is you, i think, that grace surrounds. and you wrap your children in it, too. as usual, your writing sticks in my heart. i feel these things, too.

  2. I hope you get better soon. Beautiful writing…as usual.

  3. Feel better and enjoy. You do bring your family grace and they surround you with it in return. It’s a beautiful give and take.

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